Side Hustle Burnout: 7 Ways To Avoid It

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: July 1, 2021

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You’ve started your side hustle and have been powering through nights and weekends when suddenly, it happens – side hustle burnout.

After all your hard work, you find yourself tired, stressed-out, and lacking any kind of desire to keep going. It’s an all-too-common scenario, and if you aren’t careful, it can even lead you to give up on your entrepreneurial endeavor.

But what if there was a better, more balanced way to pursue your side hustle dreams?

You see, a side hustle can be a great path to financial freedom and building a business you love. But success shouldn’t come at the cost of your wellbeing.

In fact, I firmly believe that your side hustle should be a rewarding, life-enriching pursuit.

And that’s exactly why, for the rest of this guide, I’m going to share some of my top tips to help you stay motivated and build your side hustle without burning out.

Let’s get to it!

7 Simple Ways To Avoid Side Hustle Burnout | Be The Budget

1. Budget Your Time

When you’re running a side hustle on top of working a nine-to-five job, it’s easy to devote all of your hours to work if you’re not careful.

That’s why, the first and arguably most important way to prevent side hustle burnout is to manage your time well.

Remember that your life is much more than work, and thus, you shouldn’t let your side hustle dominate every area of your life.

Sure, you may need to hustle and grind for a little while, especially in the beginning. But you should never be a slave to your business.

The purpose of a side hustle is to enhance both your life and the lives of your customers. If it’s detracting from your life instead, you may need to reevaluate the number of hours you’re dedicating to activities outside of work.

What do you enjoy doing for fun?

What other relationships and commitments are priorities for you?

Just because you have a business, that doesn’t mean you have to put all the other areas of your life on hold.

So, use a calendar, and at the beginning of each week, decide how many hours you’re going to work on your business.

Also, make sure to allocate time for family, friends, and activities you enjoy. Then, all you have to do is stick to your commitments!

Giving yourself time for other areas of your life will help prevent your side hustle from taking over all your free time.

Interested in starting or growing your own side hustle? Check out some of our other helpful guides:

2. Set Specific, Short-term Goals For Your Business

It’s easy to burn out when you lose sight of what you’re working toward. That’s why it’s so important to set specific business goals and objectives.

You probably started your business because you have a big, long-term goal or vision about how you could contribute value to the world. These huge, overarching goals are helpful because they guide most of the decisions you make as you build your business.

But long-term goals can also be daunting and overwhelming.

When you look at your long-term goals, you may only see the gaping difference between where you are now and where you want to be. When that happens, it’s easy to lose hope and motivation because you start to question whether those goals are even attainable.

That’s where short-term goals come in! Instead of looking at the whole staircase, smaller goals help you to stay focused on the very next step.

For example, instead of the long-term goal of creating a six-figure business, you might instead start with one of these short-term goals:

  • Generate $X per month from my services in the next three months.
  • Sign two new clients this month.
  • Design one new product to sell by the end of the month.

Can you see how these goals are much more actionable than the goal of creating a six-figure business?

Because they’re so specific, you can take action and immediately start working toward them.

3. Start Every Day With Your Highest-Value Work

There are lots of tasks you need to take care of as a business owner.

Checking and responding to emails, making changes on your website, posting on social media – all of these tasks might be necessary, but are they moving the needle in your business?

Every side hustle has one or two “money makers” that are more important than anything else.

These are the actions that actually move you forward in your pursuit of your business goals.

For example, if you’re a blogger, writing blog posts is the most important work you can do for your side hustle. After all, without those blog posts, you don’t have a blog!

If you’re a website designer, the most important thing you can do is (you guessed it) to design websites for your clients.

While it’s easy to get swept up by all of the extra tasks you need to do to keep your side hustle going, it’s important to prioritize the parts of your business that provide the most value.

To ensure you’re devoting enough time to the work that matters, make your highest-value work the first thing you do every day.

When you prioritize the most important work, you’re more likely to make progress on your business goals. These small victories both provide motivation that acts as fuel for you to keep persisting and reduce your risk of side hustle burnout.

4. Keep Your Expenses Low

Financial stress can be a major source of discouragement when you’re building a side hustle.

And the more financial stress you put on your business, and thus, yourself, the more likely you are to experience side hustle burnout.

You may have heard the saying, “You have to spend money to make money,” but that doesn’t mean you should start pouring all of your money into your business in the hopes that it will grow.

There’s no quicker way to put an end to your side hustle than running out of funds.

While your business may have some startup costs and overhead, do your best to limit your spending to the bare necessities.

Think about which tools are the most important for allowing you to run your business efficiently.

And before you invest in yet another software or service, consider whether or not it will actually help you reach your business goals. Do a simple cost/benefit analysis and think about how each tool will impact your revenue.

Spending your money strategically will reduce your chances of blowing through your budget without seeing any returns on your investments. Even if you’re not yet generating as much revenue as you’d like, you can push the profit/loss equation in your favor by cutting down on your losses.

So, to put it simply, consider whether each expenditure is helping to push you toward your revenue goals. If it’s not, let it go!

5. Profit Before You Spend

It’s much easier to stay motivated and avoid side hustle burnout when you’re earning a healthy profit!

That’s why prioritizing your profit is so important.

When it comes to personal finance, most of us know it’s a good practice to “pay yourself first” and set aside money to save before you spend. Well, the same principle holds true for your business finances.

In other words, if you want your side hustle to be profitable, be sure to set aside a percentage of every check you earn for profit. Then, use whatever is left over for taxes and business expenses.

The traditional profit formula says that profit is whatever is left over after you deduct expenses and taxes from your revenue. If you use this method, your expenses may eat up all of your revenue, and, in the worst of circumstances, you may not generate a profit at all!

That’s why, when you’re first starting out and your expenses are low, we recommend setting your profit to between 20 and 30 percent of your total revenue. This will allow you to reap some of the rewards of your business’s success, while also allowing you to reinvest some revenue back into your business.

Profit shouldn’t be a byproduct of your spending behavior.

You shouldn’t just receive whatever money is left over after you take care of your business expenditures. Be intentional with your profit, and your business will become much more fun.

If you want to learn more about this method, be sure to read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. This book was an absolute game changer for me, and I highly recommend it for anybody interested in growing a healthy, profitable business.

6. Systematize Your Side Hustle

Another way to beat overwhelm and avoid side hustle burnout is to create systems in your business.

In any given week or month, you’re probably doing a lot of the same or similar tasks.

You can cut down on the amount of effort and time you have to spend doing those tasks by creating simple, repeatable systems. That way, every time you sit down to work on a certain area of your business, you know the exact process to follow.

Additionally, when you implement well-defined business systems, it becomes much easier to hire and train new employees without sacrificing any kind of quality. Thus, systematizing your side hustle is actually the most important thing you can do if you want to grow your business beyond a one-person operation.

The key to creating repeatable systems is to document each one of your processes and eliminate the parts of each task that are repetitive.

For example, if you spend a lot of time emailing back and forth with potential clients, you could create a few email templates. That way, when a new person inquires, you won’t have to think of a response from scratch. You’ll just need to fill in the template you already created with any relevant details.

This will not only save you tons of time and brain power, but it will also help your business long-term.

The more systems you put in place, the better you’ll be able to scale down the road.

7. Use A Small Business Accounting Software

For many people, keeping track of business finances is one of the most overwhelming parts of starting a side hustle.

In fact, many people never even get started because they’re too intimidated by the financial side of running a business.

From double-entry accounting to understanding a cashflow statement, and even filing taxes, there can be so many details to keep track of.

Fortunately, you don’t have to hire a bookkeeper to stay on top of your business’s finances. You can easily do it yourself if you have the right tools!

That’s why we recommend investing in a small business accounting software from the get-go.

Seriously, this will save you from a ton of stress and unnecessary headaches come tax time.

It will also allow you to easily keep track of your finances, so you won’t ever have to wonder how much profit your side hustle is generating.

If you’re looking for a reliable small business accounting software, we recommend FreshBooks.

It’s super affordable and user-friendly, making it perfect for side hustlers.

With FreshBooks, you can send invoices to clients, track the time you spend on projects, and view visual reports of how your business is doing financially.

Remember, disorganized finances will almost certainly lead to overwhelm and side hustle burnout. So, eliminate this obstacle by getting your finances together as early on in your business as you possibly can.

Final Thoughts

Side hustle burnout is real, but you don’t have to succumb to it!

While it’s completely understandable to feel stressed out about your business sometimes, these simple tips will help make sure you’re not constantly operating from a place of overwhelm.

Remember, it’s better to grow slowly and build a healthy business that lasts, than it is to try and grow so fast that you end up so overwhelmed that you quit.

The most important thing you can do for your side hustle is to keep moving forward. Over time, a long series of small achievements will compound into impressive results.

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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